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News release - Issued by York Minster

York Minster’s Stoneyard opens its doors for England’s biggest heritage festival

See the ancient craft skills used to preserve the 800-year-old cathedral when York Minster’s Stoneyard opens its doors as part of England’s biggest festival of history and culture.

The free event takes place on Friday 8 September and includes the chance to see the cathedral’s craftsmen and women at work and learn about how they repair, restore and protect the cathedral’s historic fabric using techniques passed down over centuries.

The annual event is part of the national Heritage Open Days scheme, which celebrates the country’s fantastic history, architecture and culture.

This year, visitors can access the workshops and meet the people who care for the fabric of the Minster, as well as joining hourly visits to the Plaster Cast Room and Drawing Office. These include the chance to see scale drawings of the stonework restoration, allowing people to learn more about past and current conservation projects.

There’s also the unique chance to see up close the current conservation work being carried out on the cathedral’s South Quire Aisle by taking a tour up the scaffolding for the £11m project.

Visitors can also see how the cathedral has evolved over the last 1,000 years into the building we see today at a series of sessions at the Minster’s Learning Centre. Discover medieval building techniques, see a working replica of the Minster’s Tracing Floor and watch digital illustrations of the Minster’s architectural journey from the Norman cathedral of 1080 to the largest medieval Gothic cathedral in northern Europe.

John David, York Minster’s Master Mason, explained: “The open day is a great opportunity to see at close hand the skills involved in maintaining one of the world’s greatest cathedrals and to enjoy access to areas normally closed to the public.

“As well as seeing demonstrations by the stonemasons, joiners and plumbers in the workshops, for the first time this year visitors will have the unique opportunity to join a tour of the South Quire Aisle scaffolding and see up close our work to conserve this part of the cathedral.”

Admission to the open day and all tours/sessions are free, with the event running from 9am to 4pm (with last admission at 3pm) at the Stoneyard, 4 Deangate, York, YO1 7JB.

Details for the tours and sessions are as follows:

  • Visits to the Drawing Office and Plaster Cast Room take place at 10am, 11am, 12noon, 1pm and 2pm and can be booked on the day.
  • South Quire Aisle scaffolding tours take place at 9.45am, 10.30am, 11.15am, 12noon, 12.45pm, 1.30pm, 2.15pm and 3pm and last 45 minutes. Spaces are limited and tours should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment by emailing or calling 01904 557200.
  • York Minster’s Learning Centre sessions take place at 10.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and can be booked on the day.

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For media enquiries please contact:

Leanne Woodhurst – Communications Manager – t: 01904 559534, m: 07824 017585, email:

Sharon Atkinson – Director of Communications – t: 01904 557248, m: 07785 615457, email: